Warhol, de Kooning highlight NYC auction

NEW YORK (AP) — Two rare Andy Warhol portraits of Hollywood superstars Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando have fetched over $151 million at an auction in New York.

Warhol’s “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)” sold for $81.9 million and “Four Marlons” brought in $69.6 million at Christie’s sale of postwar and contemporary art Wednesday.

The nearly 7-feet-high pieces had been acquired by German casino company WestSpiel in the 1970s.

“Clamdigger,” a life-size sculpture created in 1972 by Willem de Kooning, sold for $29.2 million, a world auction record for a sculpture by the artist. The bronze piece stood in the entry of the artist’s Long Island studio for about four decades.

Also getting attention was an oversized sculpture of a monkey by the artist Jeff Koons. It sold for $25.9 million.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Extremely rare portraits by Andy Warhol of two Hollywood superstars — Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando — and a life-size sculpture by Willem de Kooning are among the major works at auction Wednesday of postwar and contemporary art.

All three artworks are being offered at auction for the first time.

An oversized sculpture of a monkey by the popular artist Jeff Koons also is being sold.

Christie’s anticipates that “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)” and “Four Marlons” could each bring about $60 million. Nearly 7 feet high, they were acquired by German casino company WestSpiel in the 1970s for one of its casinos.

De Kooning created “Clamdigger” in 1972. The bronze sculpture never left the artist and it stood in the entry of his studio on eastern Long Island for about four decades. It is expected to sell for $25 million to $35 million. The inspiration for it came from the clam diggers that the abstract expressionist artist observed on the beach every day.

“Clamdiggers” is being sold by the daughters of Lisa de Kooning, who inherited the sculpture from her father when he died in 1997. Lisa de Kooning died in 2012.

The auction record for any work by de Kooning is $32.1 million for “Untitled VIII” set last year at Christie’s.

“Triple Elvis” and “Four Marlons” rate among Warhol’s most famous portraits.

The Elvis, executed in ink and silver paint in 1963, depicts the rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob as a cowboy, armed and shooting from the hip. The Brando silkscreen, created three years later, shows the actor on a motorcycle in a black leather jacket, an image that is repeated four times.

Warhol produced a series of 22 images of Elvis. His “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” sold for $37 million at Sotheby’s in 2012.

Last fall, his “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” set an auction record for the artist when it sold at Sotheby’s for $105.4 million.

There’s only one other four-times Brando, in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen. A “Double Marlon” sold at Christie’s for $32.5 million in 2008.

Koons’ whimsical stainless steel “Balloon Monkey (Orange)” is going under the hammer with a presale estimate of $20 million to $30 million. Measuring nearly 12 feet high and 20 feet long, it looks like an inflated twisted balloon.

Koons became the most expensive living artist last year when his “Balloon Dog (Orange)” was auctioned for $58.4 million. A retrospective of the artist’s work recently closed at the Whitney Museum of American Art.